Pentagon Outlines Mobile Device Plan

The Department of Defense releases a formal strategy that outlines its goals, challenges, and next steps in adopting commercial mobile devices and mobile applications.

John Foley, Editor, InformationWeek

June 15, 2012

3 Min Read

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The Department of Defense on Friday released its first formal mobile device strategy, laying the groundwork for broader adoption of commercial smartphones and tablets across the military branches and for an enterprise-wide approach to mobile applications.

The Pentagon seeks improvements in three broad areas--wireless infrastructure, mobile devices, and mobile apps, said DOD CIO Teri Takai in a statement introducing the mobile device strategy. "As today's DoD personnel become increasingly mobile, a wide variety of devices offers unprecedented opportunities to advance the operational effectiveness of the DoD workforce," she said.

The strategy says that commercial mobile devices account for a majority of the products in use and being testing across the military, but it does not identify specific devices or mobile operating systems for department-wide adoption. More than 250,000 commercial mobile devices, including "several thousand" Apple iOS and Android devices, are in use by the military, according to the DOD.

[ InformationWeek's John Foley says Uncle Sam needs a better IT budget dashboard. See What's The ROI On Federal IT Spending? ]

Security and "timely deployment" are key issues as the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy make increased use of commercial mobile devices, according to the 7-page strategy document. The Pentagon seeks to develop mobile device policies and standards to address those and other issues, including the use of personal devices at work and, conversely, of DOD-issued devices outside of work.

The DOD is looking to establish a mobile device management service to optimize maintenance of the growing number of devices. The service would provide device registration, policy enforcement, "over the air" software distribution, and license management.

The Pentagon must develop acquisition and approval processes that are able to keep up with the pace of development in the mobile device market. Takai, speaking last month at InformationWeek’s Government IT Leadership Forum, said the goal is to approve specific models for adoption within 90 days.

The military must develop an IT infrastructure capable of supporting millions of mobile devices and hundreds of applications. The strategy highlights the need for policies and processes in support of spectrum management and expanded wireless infrastructure, including both Wi-Fi and 4G cellular.

The Army and other service branches are developing a growing portfolio of mobile applications. The new strategy calls for a common development framework and a certification process to ensure that new mobile apps are interoperable and in compliance with DOD requirements. Centralized hosting and distribution of mobile apps are part of the plan, too.

The Office of Management and Budget demands that federal agencies tap into a more efficient IT delivery model. The new Shared Services Mandate issue of InformationWeek Government explains how they're doing it. Also in this issue: Uncle Sam should develop an IT savings dashboard that shows the returns on its multibillion-dollar IT investment. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

John Foley

Editor, InformationWeek

John Foley is director, strategic communications, for Oracle Corp. and a former editor of InformationWeek Government.

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